Slow Down and Chew Your Food!

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I used to eat fast. No, I mean it. I used to eat really fast. In fact, if you sat around our dinner table you would have noticed this terrible personal habit had become a family trait. We all tended to inhale our food. As a child, my parents worked busy and stressful jobs and I remember meal times were somewhat like the Grand Prix – ready, set … finish. That is until my grandmothers came over. I can still hear their voices, “Slow down and chew your food!”

This reprimand was most often ignored as we continued to shovel
nutrients into our facial cavity. In my hurried, stressful, all-consuming first half of life as a religious zealot, I continued eating with great haste. And my poor children probably felt they had Mr. Squiggles’ grumpy chalkboard at the table (not their mother): “Hurry up, hurry up.” And then it struck … acid reflux. My gut began to protest the
under-masticated volume of fodder thrown at it because of a frenzied need for speed. And so the wonderful and under-rated discipline of mindfulness began to be a part of my meal time routine.

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Let’s just face it: we are creatures of our hurried culture. Most of us hardly give any thought to chewing our food. It has simply become a habit. Yet this chewing process is a vital step in a functional digestive process – the way you chew and how long you chew dramatically affects your health.

Dr. Mercola provides 7 reasons why chewing your food properly has
significant benefits
:

1. You absorb more nutrients and energy from your food.
Smaller particles are easier to digest and increase nutrient absorption by your intestines.

“Particle size [affects the] bio-accessibility of the energy of the food that is being consumed. The more you chew, the less is lost and the more is
retained in the body.”
– Dr. Richard Mattes (Medical News
Today July 18, 2013)
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2. You maintain a healthy body weight.
It takes time (generally about 20 minutes) for your brain to signal to your stomach that you’re full and this may explain why one study found people reported feeling fuller when they ate slowly.

3. The longer you chew, the more your food is exposed to saliva.
Saliva contains enzymes that assist in breaking down food.

4. Chewing assists digestion as it pre-digests food into small pieces.

5. It is great for your teeth.
The bones holding your teeth get a good workout while the saliva produced cleans the mouth of food particles and bacteria.

6. Properly chewed food decreases excess bacteria in your intestine.
Excess bacteria causes side effects such as bloating, diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, cramping and digestive problems.

7. Chewing your food helps you enjoy and really taste your food.

Over the last few years, I am slowly learning to eat at a far more leisurely pace. I am learning to enjoy my food and to be grateful. It has made a remarkable difference. How I chew my food these days is probably a
picture of how I am now living this second half of my life. I have learnt to breathe, to allow space, and to say ‘no’ without always feeling responsible or guilty. My grandmothers would be so proud.

‘Hurry sickness’ is the malady of our modern culture. How are you
faring? Are you overloading your intestinal tract with copious amounts of junk hitting it at lightning velocity? Slow down. Think about the food that you eat. Will it nourish your complex, wonderful body? Take a moment to consider your meal choices. Are they harming our intricate planet? Remember, you are part of this world and with it comes responsibility.

You will find that as you begin to live and eat more mindfully you won’t need the volume of food you normally consume. So eat in peace, dear friend, and chomp, chomp, chomp.

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